Last (bird-watching) day of 2015

I was hoping to do more nature-related things when I came back home, but various tasks took place and I ended up not bird-watching until this morning when I drove my mother to the library to borrow some books and then went to Terra Nova for a walk.

I miss this view.  You can't see mountains and ocean (sort of) in the same view back in Ottawa.


Christmas Bird Count 2015 (Ottawa) & Return back to BC

Hello from BC!  I returned back to BC early yesterday morning for the holiday break.  Before Tuesday, I participated in the Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count on Sunday with mostly the same group of people as last year.  As you may already know, it has been a warm December in Ontario and the weather is completely different from the previous year.  Compared to last year, our section did not record as many species, although the region as a whole has received a record number of individuals, with more than two-thirds of the total count (about 25,000 individual birds) being American Crows and Canada Geese (read the news report here).  Unfortunately, I stupidly forgot to put my freshly-charged battery into my camera and was not able to take any photos of the birds we saw.  In the end, I only snapped two photos with my phone.

The starting point of our bird count early in the morning.


Bird-watching at Arboretum in a (still) snow-free December

Compared to previous years (2013 and 2014), December so far has been very mild which makes being outside (for humans and creatures alike) more enjoyable.  Before going to school today to grade some lab reports, I made a detour to the Arboretum to do some bird-watching.  I came across a spot where several species of birds were bathing and enjoying whatever food they can find.

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) taking a bird bath.


November update

I apologize for not posting anything until the end of the month, but life is getting too busy for me to take breaks just for photographs.  During this month, I bought a year-long student membership to the Museum of Nature (and went there twice already), took up swimming during lunch breaks, and went out bird-watching three times.

Early November when the temperature was still pleasant enough to sit outside.  I was sitting on a bench and studying for my biological modeling midterm before taking this photo.


Fall- and bird-watching at Fletcher Wildlife Garden & Arboretum

Near this time last year, the fall colours at the Arboretum were around peak-time, so I came to the Arboretum yesterday and today to see if the timing is still similar.  Sadly, the timing is a bit advanced this year so most leaves are on the ground now.

Yesterday, I came with a friend and we bird-watched as well.  I forgot my binoculars and telephoto lens at home, and only had the OM 50 f/2 lens on my camera (which is why I returned again today).  I discovered a new birding spot behind the Fletcher Wildlife Garden's Interpretative Centre so we spent some time looking for birds there.

We saw this bird which we think may be a Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus).  This is a 100% crop of the original image.


Limnology field trip - Part 2

This past weekend, I was back at Station de biologie des Laurentides for another weekend field trip with the students.  The autumn colours have mostly disappeared from the landscape, and most of the leaves are now on the ground.

Lac Geai
The yellow trees are Tamarack (Larix laricina).


Searching for fall colours in Ottawa

Since last month, I have been watching leaves slowly changing their colours on my way to school.  This past Thanksgiving long weekend, I finally had some free time to go outside and enjoy autumn up close.

Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)
The week before, I saw an Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) at Sawmill Creek while I was taking a break from sitting in front of my computer all day.


Limnology field trip at Station de biologie des Laurentides

I am assisting with a limnology course this semester, and one component of the course is going to University of Montreal's Station de biologie des Laurentides this weekend and demonstrating to the students some of the sampling and analyses techniques in limnology.  Then next month, the students will apply the techniques to perform their own research project over a four-day period.

The weather during the weekend was fantastic, but I was too busy with my duties to take a lot of pictures.

Sign welcoming us to the station, which is about 2.5 hours northeast of Ottawa.


2015 Ottawa CityFolk Festival

My September has been pretty hectic so far with little time to just relax and not think about work.  This past weekend, I attended the CityFolk Festival (previously known as the Ottawa Folk Festival - see last year's photos and blog post here), which provided me a few entertaining hours of folk music each day.  Below are photos from the bands that I want to see.

I just love the beautiful music created by this sister duo even though my French is horrendous.  Their most popular song on YouTube is probably this song, check it out!

Les sœurs Boulay


Mud Lake and Petrie Islands (Post #1,000)

Knowing that I will be very busy this coming school semester - teaching, taking one class, and working on my own research project, I doubt I will be spending a lot of time outside and enjoying nature.  So for the past few days, I have been going out and taking advantage of the last free days before school begins next Tuesday.  The places I went to were Mud Lake and Petrie Island, and I went to each place twice because there are so many things to see.

Mud Lake

A lot of Water lilies (Nymphaea odorata) floating on the lake.


(Wild)life back in Ottawa

I have not done a lot of wildlife-watching since I returned from Baltimore - mainly because I do not have a valid bus pass yet and I only try to go to places within walk- and bike-able distances.  Besides where I live, the other places I go to for the past two weeks are: Sawmill Creek Wetland, the Arboretum, McCarthy Woods, and the university.  Here are some interesting things that I photographed.

Sawmill Creek Wetland

Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillar (Euchaetes egle)


Baltimore and the 100th ESA meeting

After returning back to Ottawa (from Colorado) on August 2nd, I spent most of my days preparing for my presentation at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) centennial meeting in Baltimore (August 9th to 14th).  My labmates and I departed for Baltimore on the morning of the 9th, drove more than eight hours, and arrived at Baltimore just before midnight; and my presentation took place in the following afternoon.

With ESA being the largest ecological society in the world, there was an incredible number of ecologists present, as well as numerous sessions taking place at the Baltimore Convention Center.  Overall, I thought my own presentation went well, and I enjoyed most of the presentations that I attended.  Unfortunately, I was unable to tour Baltimore as much as I would have liked.  Here are some of the photos I took when I was not busy inside the convention center speed-walking from one session to another.

The convention center lobby.  This place is completely packed in the morning, during lunchtime, and at the end of the day.  I snapped this photo when I took a break between sessions.


July update - Animals

Different types of animals I photographed this month.


Least chipmunk (Tamias minimus)
Least chipmunk (Tamias minimus)

July update - Plants & Mushroom

Here are some of the flowering plants and one of the many fungi that I saw this month.

Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum)
Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum) at Kebler Pass.  Apparently these flowers have no nectar but are visited by bumblebees for their pollen.

July update - Places & Happenings

In two days, I will be on my way back to Ottawa once again.  Overall, this has been a great field season and I am saddened to see it coming to an end.  After returning from Grand Canyon, I have been working on my data analyses and other research-related things, but I still tried to do some outdoor activities and fieldwork just to keep my mind sharp.

July 21st - Rainbow

Saw a rainbow after poor weather prevented me from staying out and taking photos of hummingbirds visiting flowers. 



July update - Trip through Four Corners, Grand Canyon, and Wyoming

Over a span of four days (July 12th to 16th), I traveled across five states and drove more than 2,400 km.

The trip began from Colorado and passed through Blue Mesa Lake again.


July update - Hiking to Treasure Mountain (4,103 m)

Last Saturday (July 11th), everyone in my lab took a half-day off to hike Treasure Mountain.  To get to the trailhead, we drove from Gothic to Paradise Divide and then hike to Yule Creek Trail.

Paradise Divide.

July update - Research-related photos

This month I planned three road-trips measuring vegetative and reproductive traits of several Mertensia species in Colorado, Arizona, and Utah.  These road-trips brought me to many interesting places that I wouldn't otherwise have the chance to go to.

July 1st to 3rd (M. ciliata and M. bakeri)

Blue Mesa Lake, the largest lake in Colorado.


June update - Invertebrates

I saw quite a lot of invertebrates (butterflies, beetles, flies, bees, spiders, and one millipede) in June.  Most are not yet properly identified.  I will try to do so later in the field season.  Until then, just enjoy the diversity of invertebrates seen here in Gunnison National Forest.

Unknown sulphur butterfly.

June update - Plants

Plants I saw in June.

Glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)
Glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)

June update - Herps and Birds

Two snakes (of the same species) and birds I saw in June.

Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans)
Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans)

June update - Mammals

Some of the mammals that I saw in June.

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

June update - Research-related photos

Here are some photos related to my research.

Mertensia fusiformis

June update - Assorted

After all that snow and rain in May, June pretty much provided the best conditions one can ask for in terms of doing fieldwork - sunny, dry, and warm.  I did fieldwork almost every single day in June, except for last Sunday and a couple of rainy days, which explains the lack of posts until now.  Now that many of my plants are done flowering and starting to set seeds, I can slow down for a tiny bit.  I have divided my all of my photos from June into six different topics.  This one is just an assortment of different photos.

Full moon on 2015-06-02
Full moon on June 2nd.


May update - assorted topics

We are having several consecutive days of relatively nice weather throughout the day so I have been quite busy working (and taking photos) but not posting them.  Here are a lot of photos from the last week of May.

Snow day (May 25th, 2015)

Before the weather got better, it got worse on the 25th when it snowed and we lost power overnight and in the morning after (so no heat and no internet). I couldn't do any work except walking around Gothic and taking pictures.

Gothic townsite


Wildlife wonder at Gunnison National Forest

No, this is not another post about poor weather conditions forcing me to update my blog.  In fact, the weather was so decent yesterday and most of today (until late afternoon) that many wildlife seemed to come out of their shelter and enjoy the good weather.

Yesterday, we went to Kebler Pass which was still under at least a couple feet of snow, so I helped out with the bee nest-box checking again.  While walking to the site, I accidentally spooked a grouse and it flew high up onto a tree.

Dusky Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus)
Dusky Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) high up on a tree.


Life working under an unpredictable weather

I was able to put in one-and-half days (17th and 18th) worth of fieldwork before today's weather turned unpredictable again and forced me to work inside most of the day.

I discovered that there are (at least) two Gray Jays (Perisoreus canadensis) that hang out near my study site because I saw them there for two consecutive days.



May update #2 - From Colorado

Since my last post, the weather has been a roller coaster ride.  It can be snowing in the morning, the snow melting and sky clearing up by mid-day, but then back to snowing in the afternoon.

Anyways, while it is snowing really hard outside right now, I have entered the data I collected yesterday, sorted my photos taken the past few days, and then decided to write this post.

May 9th

My labmate was examining cocoons and saw these spirally frass inside a cocoon.  Based on the orange colour, we suspect it is one of the composite-specialist bees - either Osmia montana or O. coloradensis.


On the way to work (i.e., from Ottawa to Colorado) and gettng there too early

I was planning to blog much later into the field season than this, but poor weather conditions (with winter snowstorm warnings in effect) here in Gothic, Colorado have halted what I originally planned.

My research/driving partner and I left Ottawa on the morning of the 6th, and we rested overnight at Kalamazoo and Grand Island, just like last year.  I didn't take many photos until we entered Colorado.

Can't remember if this was taken in Nebraska or Colorado.  Landscape in the northeast corner of Colorado is similar to the bordering states.


May update

I am departing for Colorado tomorrow morning, so this will be the only post for the next couple of weeks until I arrive, get settled, start my field season, and maybe take a break to upload my photos and update this blog.

Until then, here are some of the photo I took the last few days.

On Friday (May 1st), I biked to school and saw this raccoon washing its paws in the ditch.  I stopped to take its photo, but it decided to wander back into the shrubs instead.



Spring fauna and flora at McCarthy Woods

I went to McCarthy Woods today to practice UV photography on the flowers.  I am still missing the 40.5 to 48 step-up adapter ring, so handholding the filter in front of the camera lens is not ideal.  Plus, there may be focus shift that I need to adjust once the adapter ring arrives.  While photographing the flowers, I saw many interested things that I photographed with my E-M1.

The first was this Pileated Woodpecker (Hylatomus pileatus) pecking a fallen tree.



Arboretum and UV photography

For the past two days, I attended the annual Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology (OCIB) Symposium at Carleton University.  Yesterday, I went for a walk at the Arboretum after lunch.

Mourning Cloak visiting willow flowers.

Fauna/flora surveying at Gatineau Park (2015) - Part 3 & Sawmill Creek Wetland

On April 28th, I helped out at Gatineau Park for the last time this year.

Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

Random photos from phone and camera

I'm departing for Colorado in less than a week, and life is too busy at the moment for me to post frequently.  Here are some of the photos I took since the last post (and also some photos before that taken with my phone that I didn't upload to my computer until yesterday).

April 22th - Sky-watching.

Looking at the dramatic clouds.


Fauna/flora surveying at Gatineau Park (2015) - Part 2

I went to Gatineau this morning hoping to do bird-watching and nature photography while the regular research crew surveyed the plants and bees.  But the weather was cold (it even snowed a bit) and most of the plants are still in the budding stage.  Here are some of the things I saw.

White trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)


Swallows on Rideau River

Today, I went for a walk during lunchtime to Strathcona Park and saw that the swallows, mostly Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) and some Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica), are here!  Taking pictures of swallows-in-flight is a nearly impossible task.  I tried manual focus and blindly clicked the shutter and hoped some photos will have the swallows in focus.  I took at least 200 photos and here are some decent shots.

Swallows on the river.


Assorted photos from the weekend at school

This weekend, I was at school proctoring a final exam and grading lab reports.  Not fun but just something that always had to be done at the end of each semester.  I brought my camera and tried to take some photos when I go outside for a break.

I found a relatively interesting staircase inside the Faculty of Social Sciences Building.

Staircase in FSS Building
View from the bottom.


Fauna/flora surveying at Gatineau Park (2015) - Part 1

These past two days (Wednesday and Thursday) I was helping out with a fauna and flora surveying project at Gatineau Park (same as last year).  The weather was very pleasant and I felt great (but exhausted) from being outside most of the day.  It's a great way to prepare my body and mind for the upcoming field season.

Rideau Canal
I took this picture on Tuesday when I walked along the canal during my lunch break.  The ice has pretty disappeared by now.


Wood Ducks on Rideau River

Another warm and sunny day today.  I walked over to Strathcona Park during lunchtime to see what I could photograph, such as the flying gulls, cormorant, etc.  The only decent photos I ended with were of a pair of beautiful Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) swimming on the Rideau River.

Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa)


Spring is here because of flowers and pollinators

Last night, I was planning where to go today and considered taking the bus to Stony Swamp, a natural area southwest of Ottawa where photos of interesting animals are frequently shared on Facebook, such as Black-backed Woodpecker during the winter, porcupines, frogs, etc.  But the thought of the trip taking almost two hours, while it is located 15.6 km west of where I live, is kind of ridiculous (Ottawa transit system is quite poor compare to the Metro Vancouver transit system).  Anyways, I decided to walk to the bus station (via Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland) and visit the Arboretum in the end.

Little did I know I would see several interesting things today.

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
First was this pair of Ring-necked Ducks (Aythya collaris) - first of the year!


Wildlife observed (so far) this week

Now that the weather is getting warmer and sunnier, I went out to a few different spots this week and brought my camera with me.

Strathcona Park (Tuesday)

I went out to Strathcona Park during lunch break.  I had the 40-150 lens on my camera, and I was practicing the continuous auto-focus (with tracking) on the gulls.

Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos)
Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos)


Birds of Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

After posts of flowers and insects, here are finally the birds that I photographed last summer.

 Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis)

Insects of Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

As I prepare for the upcoming field season and refresh my memory on the flowering plants of Colorado by reading my own blog post that I realized that I still haven't blogged about the birds and insects of Gunnison National Forest from last year.  Oops!  I guess this is what happens when school becomes an overwhelming part of your life.

Anyways, here are photos of insects observed from the 2014 field season.  They are not as well identified as the flowers and birds.  Sorry to the insect-lovers.  But feel free to leave a comment (or two) if you know some of the species and/or if I identified something incorrectly (very likely since I did most of the identification last summer and didn't check them since then).  Thanks in advance.

Male Osmia sp.


Bird-watching on long Easter weekend

I hope everyone is having a good long Easter weekend thus far.  My Easter weekend involved bird-watching and spending time with new friends (humans, birds, and one dog).  Here are bird pictures from different places.

Strathcona Park

Male Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)


Mid-week birding - hints of spring returning

I recently learned that McCarthy Woods near where I live also extend to the other side of McCarthy Road and wildlife is more active on that side of the road (probably because that part is behind houses and some people have put up feeders).  I walked through there two Saturdays ago, but it was drizzling so I didn't took any photographs.  I did a lot of errands today, and before I went to the grocery store in the afternoon, I detoured to that area and did some bird-watching.

Unidentified finches - either house or purple.  I am never good at telling them apart.


Weekend activities - helping a friend & bird-watching

I really should take pictures every single day, otherwise I could not remember what I did each day (unless something really significant happened that day).  For example, I didn't take any photos last weekend and now I couldn't remember most of what I did then.

Well, I did bring my camera with me this weekend to record helping out a friend on Saturday and then bird-watching this morning.

Staircase expanded
Photograph of a staircase.  I really like patterns and lines when looking up/down stairways, such as these inspiration images (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) captured by one of my favorite photographers.  My image was taken inside one of the biology buildings on campus, but it wasn't very interesting so I replicated and flipped the image next to the original image.  Not too bad.  I need to find more interesting staircases in Ottawa.

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